From Jim:

What’s the difference between your identity and how you are known in your profession, in other words your professional brand? Ideally they align across all aspects of your personality. Nevertheless your identity and your professional brand, no matter how closely aligned they are, are developed in very different ways.

Identity emerges from your life experience beginning as an infant. This means that a substantial and significant aspect of who you are has developed unconsciously – i.e. without your conscious consideration and choice. Unless you’ve taken the time and invested the effort to uncover and integrate your unconscious life into your aware consciousness, some of your behavior, perhaps much of it, arises out of what you are not aware of about yourself and is outside your control. This point is important because your deep-in-mind, unconscious motives are implicit, very powerful, and directive. This is true for all of us and well beyond speculation. This is now a proven fact.

Now with regard to how you are known and identified in your profession, or your professional brand: even though some of it has no doubt been formed and shaped by unconscious motives, there is that aspect of your professional brand that you’ve developed consciously – making choices about how you want to be seen and known, and how you want people to relate to you.

For example, Steve Jobs always wore a black turtleneck and jeans making him the world’s most immediately identifiable CEO. By his own admission he liked the convenience of the same outfit everyday but he also wanted to convey a style that was his signature.

George Will, the conservative columnist, always wears a bow tie. That’s an old traditional look which I assume he must see as suitable for who he is and it represents his political stance.

Jobs and Will are examples of consciously chosen self-branding whether they call it branding or not. And their brands align perfectly with their identities, creating a recognizable image and personality.

Celebrity is not the only social level at which self-branding occurs.

How do you present yourself? More to the point how do you want to consciously present yourself? Do you have a signature dress style? What about your personal presence? Are you energetic and extroverted; quiet and contained; intuitive or deliberate? Step outside yourself for a moment and see yourself as others in business and in your social circle see you. Even if you change your hairstyle every month, or go from wearing subdued clothing to vibrant colors and styles, you will then be known as the person who does that and that will be your brand. Like it or not, we can’t get away from branding. That’s how we identify and relate with one another.

So it’s best that you become more aware of self-branding and do what you have to do to be seen and known as you want.

There’s also a relation between branding and bonding. Remember when the Goth look was at the forefront of media attention? Goths felt a sense of belonging with one another, a sense that the values they cherished fit. This is not mysterious. People who love jazz, or hip-hop, or football, or shoot pool, or who’ve graduated from an elite school all tend to possess the same overall identity and brand. That’s similar to how someone identifies him or herself as coming from an Ivy League school. Or from the hood. Or Christian or Jewish. Or you like tattoos. Or you don’t. Or. . .

Who you see yourself to be is an expression of your stance in the world, your vision of what life is, your belief and commitment to how best it is to be human.

The significant difference between identity, the psychological component, and brand, the work-world component, is the degree of your awareness and your explicit choices.

Unconscious, implicit motives are a part of what it means to be human. But because they can derail what we want and how we want to be it is best that we bring them to light, to whatever degree was can, and integrate them into what we know about ourselves and how we behave.

Here’s a simple way of becoming aware of your identity-brand. Make a list of the qualities you value. For example, are you clear, purposeful, believable, consistent, dependable, creative, trustworthy, emotionally available, intelligent, a visionary? These are but a few possible options. If you’re not sure ask your friends.

What about your values, or experience, or where you draw the line, or what you would take a stand for?

As you answer these questions notice whatever else you come up with in the process that will lead you to creating a live and dynamic presence of your identity and your brand.

Author's Bio: 

Judith Sherven, PhD and her husband Jim Sniechowski, PhD have developed a penetrating perspective on people’s resistance to success, which they call The Fear of Being Fabuloustm. Recognizing the power of unconscious programming to always outweigh conscious desires, they assert that no one is ever failing—they are always succeeding. The question is, at what? To learn about how this played out in the life of Whitney Houston, check out

Currently working as consultants on retainer to LinkedIn providing executive coaching, leadership training and consulting as well as working with private clients around the world, they continually prove that when unconscious beliefs are brought to the surface, the barriers to greater success and leadership presence begin to fade away. They call it Overcoming the Fear of Being Fabulous